Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

The beginning of the year always seems to bring up sentiments of retrospection and resolution. These types of feelings can range anywhere from accomplishment and pride to regret or remorse. In either case, the feelings we choose to attach to as we review our past 12 months can impact how we will approach the New Year ahead of us.Similarly, once a book has been read, you know it’s time to close the cover and move onto the next story. You’ll forever have the images, emotions and knowledge that you absorbed with you, but until you know it’s time to place that book back on the shelf and move on to the next, you’ll never be able to experience continued growth and expansion of mind, body and spirit as they relate to the characters and topics within those pages.

As you move into your New Year, and look back over the past, you may find yourself in places of judgment, frustration and disappointment along with joy, laughter and a sense of accomplishment.

The important thing is that you allow all those experiences, which have become a part of you, to help you see the upcoming adventure as a positive and exciting opportunity.

This next era of your life has as much promise for discovery, fulfillment and excitement as the opening of a new book as you read it for the very first time. Imagine the possibilities, especially if you have no idea what the New Year is going to mean to you.

Here are some areas of your life that you may want to consider closing the book on in 2016:

  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Unfulfilling lifestyle
  • Only working biceps and chest
  • Sugar and fruit juice
  • Leggings
  • Giving too many f*cks
  • Fear
  • Not being involved with a helping community organization
  • Knowing when it’s time to leave the party

How do you close the book? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I read this book before?
  • Is this story keeping me from reading a new book?
  • Would I be a different character in another story?
  • Am I finished with this story?

If you can answer in the affirmative for all or most of these queries, then it’s time to close the book. “But, how do I …” CLOSE IT! “But, what if …” JUST CLOSE IT!

Don’t forget, not all things that need to be released in order to move forward are bad. Not bad at all! Sometimes a good thing has just run its course and it’s time to appreciate that time and move forward to the next good thing!

The past four years, being a part of the Echo family has provided me with experiences and opportunities I didn’t expect to receive. I have met some of the most inspiring people in our community (whose names may not even be recognized by the majority), I’ve received several illicit phone calls and voice messages from slightly frightening “fans” and I’ve been challenged to continuously educate and re-educate myself in the fields of physical fitness and life coaching. And, much like the ending of another year or the conclusion of a rewarding book, it’s time for me to close this chapter and move forward to the exciting adventures ahead of me.

As I continue with my life coaching practice, and personal training, I have had to learn to take my own advice and make the challenging decisions – and sometimes scary choices – that come with knowing when a book is finished, even when I’m not sure I want the story to end.

So I end this year and move into the next, with so much love and gratitude toward Echo Magazine, its publisher and editor as well as the powerfully supportive LGBTQ community of Arizona. Thank you for allowing me to use my personality and style to speak to for so long, on so many topics. We’ll see each other around town, and you’ll hear from me still …whether you like it or not!

Make 2022, your best year EVER!

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Intramural sports are a sure way to build camaraderie, make friends and forge strong bonds of community – all while getting a workout, or at least engaging in an activity you love.

The Cactus Tennis Alliance promotes the sport of tennis within the Phoenix metro gay and lesbian community. Find more about the group here on Facebook.

While the group has activities all year round, possibly the most important calendar event is The Cactus Open 2022, which is on in Phoenix, Feb. 19 - 22. Get all the details here.

“We usually have anywhere from 30 to 40 people register to play in the tournament, with a majority of these players coming from out of town,” Omar Garcia, Cactus Open tournament director told OUTvoices Phoenix back in the day.

Gay and Lesbian Tennis Alliance

GLTA asks that its various tournaments sponsor a charity of choice along with their events. This year, the Cactus Tennis Alliance is sponsoring the Valley Youth Theatre of Phoenix, whose mission is to foster excellence and interest in the performing arts among Valley youth.

“We’re really trying to help kids to follow their interests and passion, as we know a lot of these young kids feel the same way about theater as we do about tennis,” Garcia said. “Another plus is that we get to support a local Phoenix organization.”

The Local League

The CTA, which is registered with the United States Tennis Association as a community tennis association, continues the mission of providing inclusive sports organizations for the LGBT community, while stressing the importance of remaining open to allies and anyone interested in playing.

“In sports it’s important to keep an open mind and be accepting of everyone,” Garcia said. “It’s important for the LGBT community to have its own place to play, but we like to keep it open and support allies the way they support us when we play.”

The alliance meets at 7 p.m. on Friday and Sunday nights at the Phoenix Tennis Center for drop-in tennis, where players of all skill levels may show up to play for two hours for an $8 court and light fee. Off the court, players also meet for social events, including viewing parties for Grand Slam events.

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